United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
PHILLIP J. GREEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
a social security action brought under 42 U.S.C. §
1383(c)(3), seeking review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security, finding that plaintiff was
not entitled to supplemental security income (SSI) benefits.
Plaintiff filed his application for benefits on October 1,
2015. He alleged a March 1, 2012, onset of disability. (ECF
No. 7-5, PageID.222). Plaintiff's claim was denied on
initial review. (ECF No. 7-4, PageID.126-29). On August 21,
2017, he received a hearing before an ALJ. (ECF No. 7-2,
PageID.50-82). The ALJ issued his decision on December 28,
2017, finding that plaintiff was not disabled. (Op., ECF No.
7-2, PageID.35-46). On August 1, 2018, the Appeals Council
denied review (ECF No. 7-2, PageID.21-23), rendering the
ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision.
timely filed a complaint seeking judicial review. Plaintiff
argues that the Commissioner's decision should be
overturned on the following grounds:
I. The ALJ failed to properly consider plaintiff's
II. The ALJ failed to adequately consider a treating
source's opinion and applied an incorrect legal standard.
(Plf. Brief, 3, ECF No. 10, PageID.428). For the reasons
stated herein, the Commissioner's decision will be
reviewing the grant or denial of social security benefits,
this Court is to determine whether the Commissioner's
findings are supported by substantial evidence and whether
the Commissioner correctly applied the law. See Elam ex rel.
Golay v. Commissioner, 348 F.3d 124, 125 (6th Cir. 2003);
Buxton v. Halter, 246 F.3d 762, 772 (6th Cir. 2001).
Substantial evidence is defined as “such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S.
389, 401 (1971). The scope of the court's review is
limited. Buxton, 246 F.3d at 772. The court does not review
the evidence de novo, resolve conflicts in evidence, or make
credibility determinations. See Ulman v. Commissioner, 693
F.3d 709, 713 (6th Cir. 2012). “The findings of the
Commissioner of Social Security as to any fact, if supported
by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive[.]” 42
U.S.C. § 405(g); see McClanahan v. Commissioner, 474
F.3d 830, 833 (6th Cir. 2006). “The findings of the
Commissioner are not subject to reversal merely because there
exists in the record substantial evidence to support a
different conclusion. . . . This is so because there is a
‘zone of choice' within which the Commissioner can
act without fear of court interference.” Buxton, 246
F.3d at 772-73; see Gayheart v. Commissioner, 710 F.3d 365,
374 (6th Cir. 2013) (“A reviewing court will affirm the
Commissioner's decision if it is based on substantial
evidence, even if substantial evidence would have supported
the opposite conclusion.”).
found that plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since October 1, 2015, the application date. (Op.,
3, ECF No. 7-2, PageID.37). Plaintiff had the following
severe impairments: “[d]epression [and] degenerative
disc disease with neural foraminal stenosis.”
(Id.). Plaintiff did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or equaled the
requirements of a listing impairment. (Id. at 4,
PageID.38). The ALJ found that plaintiff retained the
residual functional capacity (RFC) for a range of sedentary
work with the following exceptions:
He can sit for six hours, alternate to standing up for 15
minutes, after every 15 minutes of sitting, stand for two
hours, alternate to sitting for up to 15 minutes, after every
15 minutes of standing, walking for two hours. He can never
climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. He can occasionally climb
ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl.
The claimant can never work at unprotected heights, around
moving mechanical parts, or in vibration. He is limited to
performing simple, routine tasks and making simple
(Id. at 6, PageID.40).
found that plaintiff's statements concerning the
intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of his symptoms
were not entirely consistent with the medical evidence and
other evidence in the record. (Id. at 7, PageID.41).
Plaintiff did not have past relevant work. (Id. at
considered the testimony of a vocational expert. In response
to a hypothetical question regarding a person of
plaintiff's age with his RFC, education, and work
experience, the vocational expert testified that there were
approximately 46, 000 jobs that exist in the national economy
that he would be capable of performing. (ECF No. 7-2,
PageID.77-79). The ALJ found that this ...